Colorado Camp, CA

Colorado Camp is located within the El Paso Mountains in Kern County. It was founded in the late 1890s by Charles Knight, a justice of the peace in nearby Johannesburg. Colorado Camp has mostly been reported as having been a gold camp, but there is evidence from The Herald Newspaper that the Colorado Camp was also the camp for Heald coal mine.

A report from the September 5, 1897 edition reads as follows, “This is situated on the east side of Black mountain, and is a famous old placer camp. A number of miners are dry washing there at the present time. At this point is the Heald coal mine, which is now being operated, and the coal is giving satisfaction in the mill, at Garlock. There are also valuable copper mines in the district,  and there is  abundance of wood and water for milling and camping purposes.”

Colorado Camp in 1958.

Colorado Camp in 1958.


Charles Knight would eventually (date unknown) sell the mine to C. C. French, aka. “Frenchie”, a former soldier and employee of Knights. “Frenchie” was a swindler, he enjoyed drinking at the saloons in nearby Randsburg, where he produced sample nuggets, and told tall tales all in order sell shares of his mine. When someone would bite, “Frenchie” would put them to work down in the mine while he worked the ore above ground. It wouldn’t take long for new partners to realize that they were doing all the work, and for a meager share.  They always eventually abandoned their partnership, and “Frenchie” would again be off to find a new sucker. This same process took place many times of the years. It is unknown when “Frenchie” abandoned Colorado Camp.

So what is there to see at Colorado Camp today?

Not much! The only thing that remains is the chimney of one of the buildings, a foundation, and a small stone wall.



About the author

Jim Mattern

Jim is a scapegoat for the NPS, an author, adventurer, photographer, radio personality, guide, and location scout. His interests lie in Native American and cultural sites, ghost towns, mines, and natural wonders in the American Deserts.